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Keys to Victory

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Keys to Victory: Takeaways crucial to Giants' success

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The NFC East has not produced a repeat champion since the early 2000s, and the New York Giants will try to keep that streak alive in Sunday's season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles' path to a second consecutive division crown – and the No. 2 seed in the NFC this postseason – is a victory in Week 18 plus a Cowboys loss to the Commanders. If Dallas wins, Philadelphia will be the No. 5 seed regardless of the outcome at MetLife Stadium.

Here are three keys to victory for the Giants in their second game against the Eagles in three weeks:

Take that

The Giants' fortunes have been tied to takeaways this season. In six games without forcing a turnover, they have been outscored by 118 points. In five games the Giants have recorded at least three takeaways, they have outscored their opponents by one point. While not the most reliable formula, it allowed the Giants to take playoff contenders down to the wire in the last two weeks.

"Obviously, we haven't got the results that we wanted, but taking care of the ball and getting the ball is an important ingredient to giving yourself an opportunity to be where you want to be at the end of the game," coach Brian Daboll said in his weekly conversation with Giants.com. "The guys have done a good job of running to the ball. Different guys have very good instincts in terms of doing that and punching the ball out or being in throwing lanes. And the pressure package in our system that Wink (Martindale, the defensive coordinator) uses really helps the guys. It's been a collective effort from the coaches to the players. They've done a really good job."

On the other side, the Eagles' -7 turnover differential is the third-worst by any team with at least 11 wins in the last 20 seasons.

"Every game is a little different," Daboll said. "How the ball bounces in each game, it's a little bit different. But it's certainly something that we try to place an emphasis on each week and in practice and drill work and running to the ball, punching it out, ball security, taking care of it and when you're in a crowd - that was part of Gunner (Olszewski's 94-yard punt) return, where he kind of doubled it up and spun off him. So, it's definitely an important area to each game."

Money down(s)

Heading into the first leg of the season series, Martindale said you don't line up against the Eagles with a first-and-10 to start each possession. Rather, it's "first-and-nine." Often imitated but never exactly duplicated, the Eagles' rugby scrum approach to short-down situations is being studied by offensive and defensive coaches at every level of football. The former want to know how they do it so effectively; the latter want to know how to stop it.

Philadelphia converted eight of 15 third downs in Week 16 and was successful on both attempts on fourth down.

"You've put a ton of preparation in," Daboll said. "So, you go back and look at some particular cutups, but you watch the Arizona game (the Eagles' opponent last week), you watch our game a bunch again. You have a lot of things already premade, because you just played them not too long ago."

Be in position to finish

In four meetings since the start of 2022, including their postseason matchup a year ago, the Giants have found themselves down 24-7, 16-0, 28-0, and 20-3 to the Eagles at halftime (minus-78 point differential). In the second half, they have outscored the Eagles 60-53, but the games were already too far out of reach.

The Giants have stressed keeping the game within striking distance because they could catch up to the Eagles, who have allowed at least 17 points in the second half of each game since Week 15.

View rare photos of the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.

Notes & stats to impress your friends

The NFC East is on an 18-season streak of a different division winner each year, the longest in NFL history. The last repeat NFC East champion was Philadelphia, which won four in a row from 2001 to 2004.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts has 19 giveaways in 2023 (tied for second-most in NFL) compared to just eight in 2022.

The Eagles' defense has 29 fewer sacks and 10 fewer takeaways in 2023 compared to 2022.

Dexter Lawrence is the first Giants defensive lineman to be named to the Pro Bowl in consecutive seasons since end Jason Pierre-Paul in 2011-12, and the team's first interior lineman to be selected to multiple Pro Bowls since tackle Arnie Weinmeister went to four in a row from 1950-53. Lawrence is the first Giants player selected to successive Pro Bowls since safety Landon Collins from 2016-18. Last year, Lawrence was the Giants' first Pro Bowl interior lineman since nose tackle Erik Howard in 1990.

Last week, the Giants scored their last two touchdowns on an 80-yard pass from Tyrod Taylor to Darius Slayton and a 94-yard punt return by Gunner Olszewski. It was the 1,454th game in Giants history, including postseason games, and it was the first in which they had two touchdowns of 80 or more yards.

Olszewski's 94-yard return was the second longest in Giants history and the longest in 95 years. On Sept. 30, 1928, Al Youngblood scored on a 95-yard return in a season-opening road game against the Pottsville Maroons.

Dane Belton stepped in at safety in Week 17 when Jason Pinnock left the game with a foot injury and had three takeaways. He was the first Giant with two picks and a fumble recovery since Stevie Brown on Oct. 28, 2012, at Dallas.

Sterling Shepard (369) is three catches away from surpassing Jeremy Shockey (371) for fifth-most receptions in Giants history. The top four, in order, are Amani Toomer (668), Tiki Barber (586), Joe Morrison (395), and Odell Beckham Jr. (390).

View photos of the all-time history of New York Giants in the Pro Bowl.